Questioning Racial Unity On Campus

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

February 2, 2006

After a string of racial events, the University of Virginia hired William Harvey as the Chief Diversity Officer.

Harvey spoke Thursday about the lack of racial unity and equality on college campus--something students here at UVa have experienced first hand.

"We were walking to the Corner District, which is right off grounds, and as we were [walking] by, a car rode by and shouted a racial slur at us and it was really painful because it was our initial introduction for the University at orientation," said 1st-Year UVa student Reggie White.

This isn't an isolated incident--however White said how supportive the faculty and staff had been.

"I think it's just really important that we unify ourselves as a community--faculty, students, students of color and just really support each other in whatever we're going through," said White.

This support is exactly what the Chief Diversity Officer hopes to do.

"If students don't take it upon themselves to police the behavior of their fellow students, then these kinds of incidents are going to continue to occur because the people who get away with it feel like they can continue to get away with it," said Harvey.

Some students are already taking action.

"Protests, walk on the lawn and we wore black t-shirts to one of the football games to show that we are here and this is our University also and there are fliers and ribbons of racial intolerance," said Corey Muse 1st-Year UVa student.

One thing Harvey stressed that would help all colleges is to diversify the faculty.

"Such a faculty has a capacity to make unique contributions as well as to produce new role models and mentors for students, use stimulation in the classroom, and a more nurturing academic atmosphere," said Harvey.

Of tenured faculty, UVa is in the top third for African Americans--but that number is only four percent. Asians have the highest number of minorities of tenured faculty at 6 percent.

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